It may be easy to ignore because you don't want to mess with Fido's chompers, but your dog's oral health is a very important aspect of his overall health. Regular dental maintenance, like brushing and checkups at the vet, can help your pup maintain longevity by preventing oral diseases, detecting oral cancer early, and generally lead to a healthier, happier life for your four-legged friend. Here are four things your vet wants you to know about dog oral health:
Bad breath may be a sign of gum disease - Dr. Natalie Waggener
You may expect a dog to have bad breath, but if the smell coming from your pooch when he pants is making you recoil, it may be time to go to the vet. While a dog's mouth shouldn't always be expected to be minty fresh, halitosis can be a sign that the accumulated plaque in your pup's mouth has morphed into periodontal disease such as gingivitis. If left untreated, the gums can recede from the teeth, making it painful for your dog to eat, and eventually can lead to tooth loss.
"Dry dog food is promoted as helping to keep teeth clean, but it's a myth."-- Dr. Becker
Would you eat a few tortilla chips or a handful of almonds if someone told you it was going to keep your teeth clean and that you could brush less? Of course not! Dog food - no matter the consistency - is masticated when your dog eats and gets stuck in between your dog's teeth and near his gumline, the ideal place for plaque to accumulate. The type of chewing that will actually help clean your pup's teeth is the chewing they do on toys. One reason for this is because they move their head in different directions and use different teeth to gnaw on the toy. Try or using raw bones as a treat instead of relying on kibble to do the trick.
"Dogs and cats build up tartar and plaque at five times the rate of humans!" - Dr. Christina Young
A dog's mouth is its main route of navigation through the world. Whereas humans can pick things up and inspect them with their hands, dogs lick, chew, and even ingest items in their environment so they can get a lay of the land. This means that a lot more than just food is entering your pup's mouth. So of course, plaque and tartar build-up faster - they have a higher frequency of bacteria entering their mouths - the number one culprit that forms plaque and tartar! Like mentioned above, when gone untreated, the buildup of plaque and tartar can lead to periodontal disease like gingivitis or periodontitis, so it is important to take care of your dog's oral health as much as your own.